There are 987,000 people living in Port-Au-Prince and 2.6 million living in the ‘metropolitan’ area. The city does not have a sewer system.
Each night workers descend into manholes and remove raw human waste in buckets.
Port-au-Prince is about the size of Chicago. But it doesn’t have a sewer system. It’s one of the largest cities in the world without one.
That’s a big problem, but never more so than during a time of cholera.
Since cholera was introduced into Haiti 18 months ago – most likely by United Nations peacekeeping troops from Nepal, where the disease is endemic – more than a half-million people have gotten sick and at least 7,050 have died.
Public health authorities say cholera will stay in the environment for a long time, because Haiti has the worst sanitation in this hemisphere.
It’s hard for Americans to imagine what this means.
The cumulative sewage of 3 million people flows through open ditches. It mixes with ubiquitous piles of garbage. Each night, an all-but-invisible army of workers called bayakou descend into man-sized holes with buckets to remove human waste from septic pits and latrines, then dump it into the canals that cut through the city.
Haitian citizens walk through the flooded streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Nov. 6, after Hurricane Tomas hit the country. Marines with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 774 flew CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters over Haitian soil to assess the aftermath of the hurricane in preparation for tentative disaster relief efforts to the region in support of the government of Haiti, MINUSTAH and USAID. Marines and sailors embarked aboard USS Iwo Jima attached to Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force concluded humanitarian operations in Paramaribo, Suriname, Nov. 1, for Haiti relief efforts.